Durum Summit 2023 was a sold-out event featuring market, research and transportation updates as well as an opportunity to hear directly from an end-use customer.

Jaume Mas is the technical director of the Gallo Group (the biggest manufacturer of pasta in Spain) and president of the European Millers Association which represents 180 mills in the European Union.

He told the group that Canadian durum plays a very important role in the E.U. as they have a structural deficit of about 2 million tonnes per year.

"Our domestic production never meets the requirements in terms of quantity of what we need. It's going to stay like this because actually if you see the trend of European production, we are somehow packed at a maximum of 8 million tonnes, whilst our consumption can be not higher than 9.5 million. I think that even nowadays, with climate change and the bigger swings and changes on climate stream, drought periods, some rains timely or non-timely rains and so on. I think that even with this nominal capacity of 8 million, it's hard to reach. So we need to import wheat, and Canadian durum is normally getting more than half of the cake year after year. So, the share of Canada and Canadian durum on our imports is roughly on average, about 55% of the total imports of the European Union. So definitely, Canada is our number one partner for durum, and it is, it will be a really important partner for us."

He points out that depending on their blending strategy they don't always need CWAD #1.

"You have to see what really fits best. Sometimes you can do excellent work with #2 or even #3. If you're just looking for the protein, for instance, because you have really good qualities on the European in terms of falling numbers, in terms of yields, specific weights, and you just want to boost a little bit color and protein. Number three, we'll do it sometimes, perhaps you have lower qualities in Europe, then that is when you are looking for #2 or #1."

Mas says premiums also play an important role, especially in a year in which the premium between #1 and #3 is low. 

"I think that the obvious choice is #1 or #2. When premiums are higher then you have to be a little bit more budget conscious. Only if you need, then you will go for #1. For instance, I can tell you the particular case of Spain this year, we've been importing consistently #1."

They like a number of the characteristics in Canadian durum.

Millers tend to prefer it because it blends well with the European durum with our high protein, good gluten (wet and dry) quality, and yellow color. 

He says they have a minimum requirement also on falling numbers and a specific weight because that's really clearly affecting the yield, so the extraction rates.

"I would say that these are the main characteristics that we've been demanding, and we still demand from Canadian durum. We think that now your standards are very high on that aspect and now it's a good time to look at other things. For instance, fusarium head blight resistance, DON, vomitoxin maximum levels, or glyphosate residues. Which can be also requested, either by the authorities (like the maximum limits on vomitoxin) or by some specific customers who want for instance, low residue glyphosate."

Mas adds he'd also like to see more research into drought resistance, pointing out that 2021 was devastating not just for Canada, but for the world.

"Slashing your production by half and having less than 3 million, or roughly 3 million tonnes to put into the market. It affected worldwide consumptions, blending and all these strategies across the world, and even some countries have not yet recovered."

He says in taking into account the drought, it's a phenomenon that may  happen randomly, but it's going to happen probably more times. 

In wrapping up his presentation he told producers that the E.U. needs two million tonnes of durum every year, adding they will be consistently in the market, and Canada is their preferred customer.

To hear Glenda-Lee's conversation with Jaume Mas click on the link below.